Reflections of a Conservative

  1. This will undoubtedly be a long post, so feel free to bypass it. In thinking about my recent posts, I find there are a number of issues in which I may seem to lean far more to the traditionally liberal viewpoint. But I don't really think that's true. I think the truth is that there are a number of areas in which a right wing fringe group, such as the ultra-religious right, have been so vocal that their viewpoint has overtaken what are the true conservative values. (Which is also true of the liberal viewpoint.) I have a number of times challenged liberals to be intellectually honest, and follow their reasoning to its logical conclusion. I can't do that without being willing to do it myself. That leads me to a number of conclusions that are not typically associated with conservative thought.

    There are of course, a number of issues on which my thoughts are very conservative.

    -I believe in a strong national defense. This is a dangerous world, and to think that if we drastically cut our military, the rest of the world will suddenly love us is Pollyanna at best.

    -I believe in taking the fight to our enemies, rather than letting them bring the fight to us. Without going into a long, repetitious explanation, this explains why I support the war in Iraq.

    -I believe that when the enemy does bring the fight to us, as happened on 9/11/01, or 12/7/41, we make it clear that that is a very costly mistake. That's why I supported and continue to support taking the fight to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

    -I believe in personal responsibility. I believe that I worked hard to get where I am. I don't believe that means I should support those not willing to work as hard. That does not mean I want to do completely away with "welfare." However, I do believe there must be limits, and we have exceeded those limits. I don't want to be penalized for my hard work

    -I believe in fairness. Fairness is not achieved when a portion of our population pays a higher percentage in income tax than another segment, whatever the reason for the graduation. Each of us should pay taxes, but in equivalent amounts. Meaning taxation that is based on a flat percentage rate, equally applied, without deduction. It isn't fair that I, by virtue of having kids, pay a lower percentage in taxes than someone else with the same income, but without children. Neither is it fair that because I earn more, I pay proportionately more.

    -I believe in equal rights and equal protection. That does not happen under quota systems, or under "affirmative action" or whatever else you want to call it. Nuff said on this topic.

    -I believe in freedom, as guaranteed by the constitution. I believe the constitution exists not to give power to the federal government, but rather to curtail that power. It provides certain things for which the federal government is responsible, and no more.

    Believing in the freedoms guaranteed by our constitution forces me to think that belief through, and follow my beliefs to their logical conclusions:

    -I believe in freedom of speech, and agree with the courts that this freedom extends to the freedom of expression. That does not mean that speech should only be free for people who agree with me, but for everyone. If a high school student wants to write and publish a poem that is anti-Bush, they have the right to do so, with the support of their teacher. While I can take exception to what they say, I cannot quash that right, and neither can the school principle or the board of education. And denouncing someone is what was done in the Soviet Union, not in the United States. If a college athlete wants to face away from the American flag, or someone wants to burn that flag in protest, they can do so. The flag symbolizes the freedoms of our nation. Passing a law that forbids "disrespecting" the flag makes the symbol more important than the freedoms it represents.

    -I believe in freedom of religion. But that belief does not imply freedom from religion, it demands it. Ultra-religious conservatives like Pat Roberts and Jerry Falwell tell us that our nation was founded on Christian beliefs and principles. They tell us the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were all Christian men, looking to found a Christian country. Historically, that's bunk. A goodly number of the "founding fathers" were not Christians at all, they were Deists. The believed in a God, but were not convinced that God was the God of the Christian bible. In any event, they were quite clear that they did not want the government to interfere in one's religion, and equally did not want one's religion to interfere with the conduct of government.

    Freedom from religion implies some very important things. Mostly, it implies that we can pass no laws that are based solely on someone's religious beliefs, or on their personal interpretation of the bible. If you constructed a survey of feelings about a number of current, controversial issues, and gave that survey to 10 randomly selected people who identified themselves as Christian, their answers would likely be very different from one another. So, if we are to be a "Christian" country, whose brand of Christianity do we use? And in selecting that brand of Christianity, how do we enforce what is strictly a personal interpretation of the bible on someone whose interpretation does not agree?

    That being true, we cannot pass laws for which the sole basis for that law is a religious belief. This applies to a number of questions in today's society. Most recently, we have talked about gay marriage, but there are others. If an action has no harm to either society or to an individual, then that action cannot be outlawed simply because it violates the religious precepts of a portion of the population. In short, we cannot force churches to marry gays, but neither can we deny gays the right to marry because Leviticus tells us it is "an abomination."

    -I believe in the second amendment, and the right to keep and bear arms. However, there are no rights conveyed by the constitution that are limitless. For reasons of safety, or an orderly society, or a number of other reasons, there are limits to our rights. Regardless of what the NRA may tell you, the 2d Amendment is no different. There must be limits. While I believe in the fundamental right to own a handgun for home defense, for example, I don't believe that private citizens need submachine guns for that, or any other purpose.

    -I believe we are all different, and we should celebrate those differences. After all, how boring would this world be if we were all the same? But I don't believe in the policies and laws that have been enacted in the name of "diversity." I believe that "diversity has its roots in a fundamentally prejudiced theory. Diversity says we must be exposed to a variety of lifestyles and viewpoints, and accepting of those differences. But it goes further to say that there is a specific lifestyle for each of us. It suggests that our thoughts, our opinions, who we are is primarily shaped by what color we are, or gender, or sexual preference. I can think of no more racist, sexist idea.

    In short, I think conservatism speaks about individual freedoms. It speaks about personal responsibility, and fiscal responsibility. It does not mandate certain religious beliefs, nor does it mandate discrimination. There is a vocal minority on the extreme right that have chosen to make the conservative movement their personal soapbox for issues that the government has no right to be involved in. Conservatism does not demand that you be a Christian, nor does it demand that you toe a line based on someone else's religious beliefs. It says you should be able to go as far as hard work and talent will take you, without undue interference from the government. It says no one may discriminate against you for reasons of color, race, creed, or other artificial construct. By the same token, you may not discriminate against anyone else for the same reasons.

    That's my brand of conservatism. Hope I haven't bored you too much.

    Kevin McHugh
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  2. 19 Comments

  3. by   VivaLasViejas
    Kevin---You and I are much closer in philosophy than it would seem based on politics alone. I don't support the war in Iraq, and personally I loathe Geroge W. Bush; but other than that, the views you've put forth here mirror my own. Thank you for stating so eloquently what I suspect a majority of Americans believe, but we are not heard from because it's the extremists on both ends of the political spectrum who command center stage in the public arena.

    Beautiful.
  4. by   nurseunderwater
    Kevin, thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

    What a well thought out and constructed post. You have my respect as a human with a heart. Maybe it's time to change that sig line :chuckle:

    Thanks again for sharing your reflections. I enjoy reading your posts.

    Kate
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Me too. Thank you.
    I hope others who want will share also.
  6. by   Energizer Bunny
    Kevin, I hope you don't mind but I would like to offer my thoughts on points that you have brought up here. While I certainly don't consider myself to be a conservative (I'm not real sure I'm liberal either) I do agree with you on a lot of points. I do not, however, support President Bush and I supported the war when it first started and I was believing everything I was told. I have a little more sense and am questioning things now. But, I digress...here it goes..........
    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in a strong national defense. This is a dangerous world, and to think that if we drastically cut our military, the rest of the world will suddenly love us is Pollyanna at best.
    I agree with you here. I don't think cutting our military is the way to go now, post 9/11.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in taking the fight to our enemies, rather than letting them bring the fight to us. Without going into a long, repetitious explanation, this explains why I support the war in Iraq.
    This I disagree with simply because we have so many enemies that I just can't see it being feasible. While I don't want to wait like a sitting duck for us to be attacked again, I am unsure of how it would work out if we went after all of our enemies.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe that when the enemy does bring the fight to us, as happened on 9/11/01, or 12/7/41, we make it clear that that is a very costly mistake. That’s why I supported and continue to support taking the fight to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
    I completely agree here. I personally think our main focus all of this time should have been Afghanistan.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in personal responsibility. I believe that I worked hard to get where I am. I don’t believe that means I should support those not willing to work as hard. That does not mean I want to do completely away with “welfare.” However, I do believe there must be limits, and we have exceeded those limits. I don’t want to be penalized for my hard work.
    There is a limit to what I think welfare should be able to do for people and I feel as though those on welfare should be forced to go and make a better life for themselves rather than having children and collecting more money because it is "easier". It should be made harder for those that are slacking to get the funds and easier for those that are trying to make our lives something to get it.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in fairness. Fairness is not achieved when a portion of our population pays a higher percentage in income tax than another segment, whatever the reason for the graduation. Each of us should pay taxes, but in equivalent amounts. Meaning taxation that is based on a flat percentage rate, equally applied, without deduction. It isn’t fair that I, by virtue of having kids, pay a lower percentage in taxes than someone else with the same income, but without children. Neither is it fair that because I earn more, I pay proportionately more.
    I'm not a big one on financial issues, so I am not going to comment on this until I can do more research on it.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in equal rights and equal protection. That does not happen under quota systems, or under “affirmative action” or whatever else you want to call it. Nuff said on this topic.
    I agree with you here...all the way!

    Quote from kmchugh

    -I believe in freedom of speech, and agree with the courts that this freedom extends to the freedom of expression. That does not mean that speech should only be free for people who agree with me, but for everyone. If a high school student wants to write and publish a poem that is anti-Bush, they have the right to do so, with the support of their teacher. While I can take exception to what they say, I cannot quash that right, and neither can the school principle or the board of education. And denouncing someone is what was done in the Soviet Union, not in the United States. If a college athlete wants to face away from the American flag, or someone wants to burn that flag in protest, they can do so. The flag symbolizes the freedoms of our nation. Passing a law that forbids “disrespecting” the flag makes the symbol more important than the freedoms it represents.
    These are very good points, Kevin and I also agree with you here. The thing about the flag is that we have put it on such a pedestal that our enemies burn it to get back at us or to try to anger us.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in freedom of religion. But that belief does not imply freedom from religion, it demands it. Ultra-religious conservatives like Pat Roberts and Jerry Falwell tell us that our nation was founded on Christian beliefs and principles. They tell us the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were all Christian men, looking to found a Christian country. Historically, that’s bunk. A goodly number of the “founding fathers” were not Christians at all, they were Deists. The believed in a God, but were not convinced that God was the God of the Christian bible. In any event, they were quite clear that they did not want the government to interfere in one’s religion, and equally did not want one’s religion to interfere with the conduct of government.

    Freedom from religion implies some very important things. Mostly, it implies that we can pass no laws that are based solely on someone’s religious beliefs, or on their personal interpretation of the bible. If you constructed a survey of feelings about a number of current, controversial issues, and gave that survey to 10 randomly selected people who identified themselves as Christian, their answers would likely be very different from one another. So, if we are to be a “Christian” country, whose brand of Christianity do we use? And in selecting that brand of Christianity, how do we enforce what is strictly a personal interpretation of the bible on someone whose interpretation does not agree?

    That being true, we cannot pass laws for which the sole basis for that law is a religious belief. This applies to a number of questions in today’s society. Most recently, we have talked about gay marriage, but there are others. If an action has no harm to either society or to an individual, then that action cannot be outlawed simply because it violates the religious precepts of a portion of the population. In short, we cannot force churches to marry gays, but neither can we deny gays the right to marry because Leviticus tells us it is “an abomination.”.
    Kevin, I am a Christian and I completely agree with you on everything you said here as well. What I don't get is Christians that continue to judge others even when it is clearly stated in the Bible that it is wrong to do so. Everyone should be free to practice whatever they wish as long as it is not harming another human being.

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe in the second amendment, and the right to keep and bear arms. However, there are no rights conveyed by the constitution that are limitless. For reasons of safety, or an orderly society, or a number of other reasons, there are limits to our rights. Regardless of what the NRA may tell you, the 2d Amendment is no different. There must be limits. While I believe in the fundamental right to own a handgun for home defense, for example, I don’t believe that private citizens need submachine guns for that, or any other purpose.
    This is where I have not quite clear thoughts. I am glad that I have the right to buy a gun if I wish, but then again, I am irritated that it is so easy for anyone to obtain a gun. I think we need clear laws when buying any kind of weapon or firearm and that there needs to be a background check and wait period for all!

    Quote from kmchugh
    -I believe we are all different, and we should celebrate those differences. After all, how boring would this world be if we were all the same? But I don’t believe in the policies and laws that have been enacted in the name of “diversity.” I believe that “diversity has its roots in a fundamentally prejudiced theory. Diversity says we must be exposed to a variety of lifestyles and viewpoints, and accepting of those differences. But it goes further to say that there is a specific lifestyle for each of us. It suggests that our thoughts, our opinions, who we are is primarily shaped by what color we are, or gender, or sexual preference. I can think of no more racist, sexist idea.
    Absolutely! Diversity is the fun part of life for me...I love to meet new people, see new viewpoints, etc. I think our country is fabulous the way it is...especially the diversity!

    Quote from kmchugh
    There is a vocal minority on the extreme right that have chosen to make the conservative movement their personal soapbox for issues that the government has no right to be involved in.
    And finally, this is where I tend to get up in arms. It's a black and white situation in many conservatives minds instead of being willing to see the grey area. Kevin, thank you so much for this thought provoking post. I appreciate it and I appreciate your openness!
  7. by   roxannekkb
    Other than the fact that I despise George Bush and his crowd, and believe that they are harming our nation and the entire world, and that I think the war in Iraq is entirely unjustified (think Vietnam)--I completely agree on everything you said, Kevin.

    One of the biggest problems I have is with "diversity" where people are being increasingly segmented into little groups according to race, sexual preference, ethnic background, religion, and so on. It's to the point where I've heard people say that it's "racist" to require Spanish speaking schoolchildren to be taught in English. My pipedream is similar to the what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, believed, in that, "I have a dream that one day my four little children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    Anyway, I do think that Bush and many other so-called conservatives have branched out and away from traditional conservative values in that they are bringing (or at least trying to) more government intrusion into our lives. In that sense, I think that they have really distorted the conservative platform, along with generously peppering it with all of the fundamentalist Christian beliefs that have no place in government.

    Thank you for writing, Kevin. While many of us on these boards are divided on some issues, we certainly feel the same way on others. So that does mean that there is hope for all of us to work together!
  8. by   Energizer Bunny
    Quote from roxannekkb
    Anyway, I do think that Bush and many other so-called conservatives have branched out and away from traditional conservative values in that they are bringing (or at least trying to) more government intrusion into our lives. In that sense, I think that they have really distorted the conservative platform, along with generously peppering it with all of the fundamentalist Christian beliefs that have no place in government.
    ITA here. The government does appear to be trying to get more embedded into our daily lives and I don't like it one bit. Land of the free or land of the government's interference?
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Concern over far-right fanatics is one thing; I am just as concerned about far leftists, as well. There are lunatics on both sides.......they are not called "fringe lunatics" for nothing.

    That said, I appreciate your post Kevin, even if I don't agree 100% with what you say. Like Voltaire said, I would die to protect the right to say it freely!
  10. by   Mkue
    Kevin, if I could write like you do, my brand of conservatism would be similar to yours. You are an awesome writer with a unique ability to express yourself so well. I'm envious but admire you at the same time.
  11. by   kmchugh
    CNM2B, I'm glad you took the time to respond (and the rest as well). I have long thought that in spite of the heated debates here, many of us were a lot closer in philosophy than we suspected. I had hoped that by posting some of the philosophies I held, we might find some of that common ground.

    There is one thing I'd like to clarify, however:

    Quote from CNM2B
    This I disagree with simply because we have so many enemies that I just can't see it being feasible. While I don't want to wait like a sitting duck for us to be attacked again, I am unsure of how it would work out if we went after all of our enemies.
    Don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that we should have a big map of the world somewhere with all our "friends" and "enemies" labeled, with plans to go invade everybody who falls in the "bad guy" column. What I'm saying is there needs to be a clear message: You cannot attack us with impunity. You attack us at your own peril. We will bring the fight to you. Attacking the US is stupid, and it isn't cheap.

    Now, what constitutes an attack on us? That is a little fuzzier question. For me, if a foreign government attacks, tries to attack, or supports people or groups who would attack and kill Americans, then that government has committed an act of war, and retribution should be swift and decisive. Hence, I see the war on Iraq as justified.

    But, should we attack preemptively? It's easy to say no, but think of a hypothetical situation. Suppose on December 6, 1941, US submarines were trailing the Japanese fleet, and had foreknowledge of the intended attack on December 7. Do they sink the carriers, and prevent the attack of December 7? Or do they wait until the aircraft have begun the attack, then attack the carriers? One course of action prevents the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while the other has the virtue of waiting until we had proof of Japanese intentions. The preemptive response also potentially shortens the war. The four carriers involved in the attack at Pearl were vital to later Japanese war plans. Additionally, a preemptive strike leaves the US Pacific Fleet intact, and hence we do not have to delay taking the war to the Japanese. Easy to see all this in hindsight, but if you are on the US sub, what's the correct response? I'd be willing to bet there are a variety of answers out there. For me, sink the carriers. In other words, if you know the bad guys are coming, don't wait for them to get there and do the damage before you do something about it.

    Kevin McHugh
  12. by   nekhismom
    Kevin, we are much closer in opinions that I ever imagined. I suspect others will find that too. It's amazing that we can hold such similar views on things, yet be LIGHT YEARS apart as to why we believe the way we do.

    Thanks for sharing, Kevin. I'll respond more when I'm actually coherent tomorrow!
  13. by   Energizer Bunny
    Quote from kmchugh
    CNM2B, I'm glad you took the time to respond (and the rest as well). I have long thought that in spite of the heated debates here, many of us were a lot closer in philosophy than we suspected. I had hoped that by posting some of the philosophies I held, we might find some of that common ground.

    There is one thing I'd like to clarify, however:



    Don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that we should have a big map of the world somewhere with all our "friends" and "enemies" labeled, with plans to go invade everybody who falls in the "bad guy" column. What I'm saying is there needs to be a clear message: You cannot attack us with impunity. You attack us at your own peril. We will bring the fight to you. Attacking the US is stupid, and it isn’t cheap.

    Now, what constitutes an attack on us? That is a little fuzzier question. For me, if a foreign government attacks, tries to attack, or supports people or groups who would attack and kill Americans, then that government has committed an act of war, and retribution should be swift and decisive. Hence, I see the war on Iraq as justified.

    But, should we attack preemptively? It’s easy to say no, but think of a hypothetical situation. Suppose on December 6, 1941, US submarines were trailing the Japanese fleet, and had foreknowledge of the intended attack on December 7. Do they sink the carriers, and prevent the attack of December 7? Or do they wait until the aircraft have begun the attack, then attack the carriers? One course of action prevents the bombing of Pearl Harbor, while the other has the virtue of waiting until we had proof of Japanese intentions. The preemptive response also potentially shortens the war. The four carriers involved in the attack at Pearl were vital to later Japanese war plans. Additionally, a preemptive strike leaves the US Pacific Fleet intact, and hence we do not have to delay taking the war to the Japanese. Easy to see all this in hindsight, but if you are on the US sub, what’s the correct response? I’d be willing to bet there are a variety of answers out there. For me, sink the carriers. In other words, if you know the bad guys are coming, don’t wait for them to get there and do the damage before you do something about it.

    Kevin McHugh
    Kevin, now I am more befuddled than ever. Not about your point of view, but about my own! I think each situation would warrant a very in depth study into how it would affect our country before we just jumped in against our "enemies". Where before you post, I probably would have said only attack them if they attack us, now, I am thinking that if the intelligence is there, it might be worthy of really, really, really looking in to. This is where I have a problem with the current state of Iraq. I am unsure that it was planned as well as it could have been and this is only becuase no one has really spelled out a plan for us until this point. Now, it looks as though we are finally going to get some answers. I hope so and I hope it isn't a ruse to just try to get us off the government's back.
  14. by   laughingfairy
    Kevin that was an incredible post...I had a college professor tell me that this type of view point is far more libertarian than conservative or liberal. My husband calls it personally conservative and generally liberal...I call it common sense.

    I've sat here and tried to think of how to reply in specific and can not. Just thank you for your post.

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